What is Kombucha and is it good for me?
Kombucha is a type of fermented tea and has been around for over 2,000 years, originating in ancient China and yes it is good for you. Kombucha has many properties that aid good health but there are a few issues to be aware of. I started drinking it when I gave up alcohol.
What is Kombucha made of?
The three ingredients in Kombucha are basically tea, bacteria and sugar.
The important element in Kombucha is a SCOBY. This stands for ‘a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast’. The SCOBY (sometimes referred to as the mother!) is made of live bacteria. Through the fermentation process the Scoby bacteria and yeast eat most of the sugar in the tea, transforming it into a slightly fizzy, sour drink that is relatively low in calories and sugar.
I enjoy ‘sour’ tasting drinks and liked it straight away, some people find it takes a while to get used to.
What are the benefits of drinking Kombucha?
The main benefits of Kombucha are that it contains healthy probiotics, which are tiny micro-organisms similar to the “good bacteria” naturally found in your gut.
Research has found consuming probiotics can support the immune system and lower cholesterol. Perhaps one of the most important benefits is that probiotics help to promote a healthier gut. A healthy gut can help manage conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and other digestion problems. The link between a healthy gut and the brain is also now a focus for research in conditions like Dementia.
Does Kombucha aid weight loss?
Probiotics found in fermented foods have health benefits. One of these is that they may reduce the amount of calories you absorb from food. Probiotics are thought to inhibit the absorption of dietary fat meaning more fat is excreted (on the loo - in the usual way!). In addition, probiotics may also reduce inflammation which is increasingly being linked to obesity.
What do I need to be aware of?
Not all Kombuchas are equal. Some, especially those that are flavoured, can have a high sugar content. Look for one with 3 to 4 grams per 100m. (That’s about one tea spoon) This is significantly less sugar than most other fizzy drinks. I always buy the unflavoured version and add my own flavourings, for example, mint, ginger, bitters, orange, lemon, grapefruit and even passion fruit syrup if I want a little sweetness.
Alcohol is a natural by-product of fermentation. So technically, all kombucha contains a small amount of alcohol. This is usually less that .5%, an amount that occurs naturally in food and drinks, for example orange juice. Check the label and be aware of this if you are drinking home-made versions.
Kombucha is made with Bacteria so there is a risk of contamination. Anyone who has a compromised immune system (or is pregnant) should be mindful of this, especially if the drink is home-made and unpasteurised.
If you are looking for a grown-up drink that works as alternative to alcohol and is low in sugar with some health benefits thrown in, Kombucha might be the drink for you!